Pioneer – A review for XboxHornet by WDesm
“A Light-Hearted game about helping your tiny village grow”
“Pioneer” plays and feels like an old-school SNES game, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You play a single pioneer, freshly new to a small village. Your goal is to collect resources (thankfully, the game is simplified into having only two types), protect the villagers and your chief, attack enemy towns for conversion to your cause, and to kill undead skeletons and trolls. I’m not sure why the last goal was put in; perhaps fighting off bears would have been too unrealistic?
Walking around the randomly generated 2-d map, you’ll quickly grasp the hang of the game. The gameplay is simple, borderlining on perhaps too simple, as your only input is the “A” button to harvest a material or drop a harvested material, but the point of the game is not complexity. Indeed, it would be remarkably hard to lose this game, as you are instantly revived upon death, and each of your villages has a healer that will happily run over and heal your wounds should you crawl into town. Because of this, there is little competitiveness in the game, but I consider that a strength: Much like the full-titled Kingdom of Keflings for XBLA, there is a niche for non-competitive games that are relaxing and enjoyable.
The art style is simple, bearing the 2-D isometric sprites first iconic of the 16-bit generation, and while it is not complicated, suites the game well. Different terrain is shown clearly, albeit plainly, and upon first seeing the different terrains, your character is told what to expect from each type. The music is benignly enjoyable, although musical transitions and loops really need some work (going from “town” to “raw wilderness” does have a sudden break in the flow of music, for example).
The game does support multiplayer, allowing up to 4 players on a splitscreen mode. Both competitive and cooperative multiplayer seem to be available, although the instructions on how to choose which seem a little fuzzy – when I “died,” I would often respawn as a different colour, which was thoroughly confusing for my friends beside me whether I was friend or foe that moment. This might just be a bug, but a curious one nevertheless.
“Pioneer” is a fantastic game that takes you to a randomly-generated open world with a generously casual attitude toward gaming. It has bugs, and quirks, and it will annoy you to no end when AI villagers stand in the most inopportune spots, but I must admit, I spent far more time than I needed to having simple, lighthearted, pure “fun” instead of writing this review in a timely manner. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more skeletons to kill and some apples to harvest.
Game score 8/10
Download a free trial of the game here.</a